Sunday, January 24, 2016

Battle of the Bronzes: e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic vs. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
 e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic vs. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

I'm a big fan of Maybelline Color Tattoos (one of my favorite cheap eyeshadows), and perhaps my favorite of those I currently own is Bad to the Bronze. In addition to wearing very well over primer (something not all cream eyeshadows do), I like that I can use it to create a very pretty look very quickly. It applies best with my finger, which takes slightly less time for me than a brush (though, then, I have to clean off my finger). And the shimmer in it is intense enough (without being glittery) that if I blend Bad to the Bronze from my lash line into and slightly above my crease, it creates a complex look that gives the impression that I've used more than one shade. The shimmer reflects on the lower part of my lid, but not in the crease. Almost like a very subtle duochrome effect.

Here is is on my eye. See what I mean about the metallic sheen near my lashes with a warmer, less reflective color in the crease? I think it has more impact in person.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

After reading this reddit post raving about the e.l.f. Smudge Pots, I was really curious as to how they would compare to my Color Tattoos. The redditor claims that they are superior to both Color Tattoos and to MAC Paint Pots, and specifically that they do not crease at all. Exciting! So I picked up the shade Cruisin' Chic, which looked like a taupier version of Bad to the Bronze in the photos I found. I reasoned that either it would be a nice alternative to a current favorite, or if it turned out to be really similar, it would make a good (better?) replacement once Bad to the Bronze was finished or dried up.

Spoiler: I was disappointed by the e.l.f. Smudge Pot for a variety of reasons, most of which probably come down to personal preference. Let's start with comparison swatches (not over primer):

Swatches of e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic (left) and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze (right)
Swatches of e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic (left) and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze (right)
In the swatches (and in the pot), I think they look pretty similar. Cruisin' Chic, rather than being more of a taupe like I had expected, turns out to be a bit warmer and redder. The shimmer in Cruisin' Chic is about the same color as its base, while the shimmer in Bad to the Bronze looks a bit more silvery to me (though I'm not sure that comes out in this photo--it somehow looks gold here). In swatches on my arm, the pigmentation is about the same. The e.l.f. Smudge Pot feels a lot softer and slipperier, but then this Maybelline Color Tattoo is over a year old (maybe almost two?) so it's stiffer than it was when it was brand new.

Applied to my eyelids, however, the e.l.f. product is less pigmented, perhaps because it's softer. It sheers out really easily when it's blended, though it is possible to build it up a bit. The shimmer is also more subtle and overall I think this shade looks less striking than Bad to the Bronze when I wear it. Here is is on my eye, applied in the same way as the Color Tattoo (i.e. with my finger, over primer):

e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic

e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic

It's a nice enough eyeshadow, but there's nothing particularly interesting about it. I probably have about a half dozen extremely similar powder shadows. But if it does indeed wear like iron, it might edge those other shadows out.

Sadly . . .


While I haven't noticed an unusual amount of creasing, it wears off in my crease very quickly. It's almost as if it sticks to itself wherever one part of my lid touches another part and removes itself. Without primer, it will do this in seconds. With primer, as in the photo, it may take several minutes or up to an hour. The photo above was taken about 45 minutes after application (again, over primer) and that light patch in the middle is not a reflection, it's a bald spot. It only gets worse the longer I wear it.

Maybelline Color Tattoos aren't perfect in this respect, either. Over primer, I'll get some creasing after a few hours, though nothing dire. But because I think Bad to the Bronze is so much more interesting, I'm more tolerant. Cruisin' Chic just doesn't have a lot going for it, in my view, either in terms of appearance or performance.

On me, the formula of this e.l.f. Smudge Pot works very similarly to most eyeshadow crayons (like this NYX crayon I reviewed ages ago). They're too slick and they just don't last, even with primer. My oily eyelids eat makeup for breakfast, that's true, but I was hoping that this stuff would be better than average, not worse. If you can get eyeshadow crayons to work for you, however, you might have great luck with the Smudge Pots.

With all other things equal, the e.l.f. product certainly does have an edge when it comes to price. As I've discussed before, the Maybelline Color Tattoos have heavy, solid glass bases that make them seem bigger but don't contain any product. All of the product is just inside the height of the lid (more visible in the photo in this post).


While it's true that the e.l.f. pot is made of very thick plastic that also makes it appear larger than it is (more visible in the first photo in this post), it contains 0.19 oz., while the Maybelline contains slightly less at 0.14 oz. Since the e.l.f. Smudge Pot costs $3, and the Color Tattoo costs around $7 (or $5.60 on Amazon), I don't have to do any calculations to demonstrate which is a better value per ounce. So if the Smudge Pot appeals to you, the price is right. Though I much prefer the glitz of the e.l.f. Long Lasting Lustrous Eyeshadows (reviewed here), if you're looking for a cheap thrill. (And Wayne Goss said in a video that they are nearly identical to Chanel Illusion D'Ombre eyeshadows.)

It's possible that the other colors of Smudge Pots are more exciting, but I'm not really inclined to try them. $3 is still too much for a product that doesn't work for me. I'll stick with my Color Tattoo.

Zoya raises prices to $10 a bottle

Hope you bought any Zoya polishes you wanted in their last sale, because they are now $10 a bottle! Sorry, as much as I love Zoya, that's way too much for me. They've raised the price $2 in just over 2 years--that's pretty steep when you think of it in terms of percentage.

I know there are much more expensive polishes out there, but I've never been inspired to buy them. I've tried some out and read lots of reviews, and I don't see a big (or any) difference that can be correlated to price. What's your upper limit for polish?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Quick Question: Do you use toner?

Photo included because toner is watery? And this fountain at Caserta (near Naples) is cool.
I fully admit that I own and use way too much skincare shit, and that I'm intrigued by what various products might do for me and how they work. One common product that I can't remember ever using, however, is toner. I just don't know what purpose it would serve in my routine.

From what I understand, toner was originally used to counteract the basic pH level of soap. You applied toner with an acidic pH after washing your face to restore the face's natural balance. But since most cleansers today are pH balanced, it seems unnecessary for that purpose. I do use similarly watery or thin products like liquid exfoliants and serums, and there are other things out there such as essences that I haven't yet explored. But toner? I know some of them have beneficial ingredients, but I would just as soon use a serum or moisturizer with those ingredients in it as add an addition step and expense. I suppose if you have oily, not dehydrated skin, you might substitute a lighter toner for a heavier moisturizer.

What about you? Do you use toner? If so, what role does it play in your skincare routine? If not, why not? I'm curious how popular these things actually are, since I see them around but don't hear people talking about them a lot.

Monday, January 18, 2016

TheBalm is 50% off on HauteLook

This is the best way to buy TheBalm in my experience. There is a big selection, including palettes and highlighters and other popular things, and most things are at least 50% off. It beats trying to use the brand's own website during their 50% off sale, because it always crashes. Shipping is $5.95 (or free over $100).

You need an account to browse HauteLook, so here is my invite link.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Do I Need This? Lip Primer (Comparison of Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer, e.l.f. Lip Lock Pencil, and Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer)

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
Welcome to the latest installment of my Do I Need This? series. In these posts, I offer my experience and opinion about whether or not I think a product or technique is worth it. Obviously, you don't really need ANY beauty products, so the answer to the question is always going to be no, to some extent. But is it going to change your life (or face)? Is it going to make things easier? Are you going to notice any difference at all? That's what I'm getting at. You may disagree with my verdict, because we all have different bodies/faces/brains/desires, but I'll try to offer a starting point, at least. 

Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer vs. e.l.f. Lip Lock Pencil primer vs. Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer


One of the ways beauty companies keep us buying things is by continually creating new categories of suddenly indispensable products. Primer is one category that has certainly been growing over the last five years or so. Suddenly we need to prime everything: our faces, our eyelids, and even, apparently, our hair. I'm not going to be buying any hair primer, and foundation primer rarely seems to actually do anything to improve my makeup, but eyeshadow primer has actually become essential for me. I used to rarely bother with eyeshadow because it creased and melted off in a couple of hours, so primer makes a huge difference. But lipsticks and lip glosses can be finicky and fleeting too. Will lip primer do anything to make our lives easier? Or is it just another gimmick?

Do you need lip primer?

Short answer: Maybe, if you have problems with lip color feathering or pigmented glosses fading.

I'm going to compare three different lip primers here--one very cheap and two pretty expensive, one a thick liquid and two waxy sticks. Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer ($20) is a whitish, translucent liquid product that comes in a tube with a doe foot applicator. It's similar to an eyeshadow primer (though I tried using eyeshadow primer on my lips and it was not a success). Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer ($22) and e.l.f. Lip Lock Pencil ($3) are very similar, hard, matte, waxy crayons. The main difference is that the Bite product smells minty. (Note: I have a mini version of the Bite primer, which was part of the holiday Bite Discovery Kit.) No swatches of the primers here, because they are all nearly transparent. All three products make essentially the same claims: to prevent feathering and make lip color last longer. I tested each product with the same tricky lip gloss and lipstick.

Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer vs. e.l.f. Lip Lock Pencil primer vs. Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer
Not my greatest photography.
First up, lip gloss. One of my favorite lip glosses is Avon Glazewear in Intense Plum (now sadly discontinued but still available on Amazon). As the name suggests, it's a quite pigmented purplish gloss. The problem is that that once I blot it, most of the color disappears. Wearing a thick layer of it, however, isn't really an option, because it gets messy and smeary. Too high maintenance. So a primer that can keep it in place at full strength would be ideal.

(Many, many photos below, so I will give you a cut.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sample of Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask + 7 other samples with $25 purchase from Sephora

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
This isn't a huge deal, but I thought I'd post it since when I posted on Instagram about the Bite Agave Lip Mask sample I had, some people were wondering how to get it. If you're planning to place a Sephora order anyway, you can now get that sample along with 7 others (foil packets, full list here) with a $25 purchase. Use code FOLLOW. You can also get 4% cash back on Sephora orders from Ebates.

For the record, I didn't like the stuff and threw it out after a few uses (even though the samples were very generously sized and I could have got a few weeks out of them). I was surprised since I've heard people rave about it. Better to have found out with a sample than to have spent $26 and regretted it! Have you tried it? Did it work for you?

h/t Nouveau Cheap

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Drugstore Dupe for Anastasia Brow Wiz (from Budget Beauty Blog)

The Budget Beauty Blog is a great source for dupe info. Here she compares Anastasia Brow Wiz (the pencil) to the new L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer, and finds that they are nearly identical. Nice!

Friday, January 8, 2016

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette Review (with swatches)

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette Review

Day after day after day of overcast gloom is crushing my creativity, and I can't think of a jazzy title for this post. Don't mistake that for my being unenthusiastic about this eyeshadow palette. I've been having a lot of fun with it, and the quality is remarkable. I do recommend it.

There have been lots of drugstore nude palettes released in the last year or so in apparent competition with the mega-popularity of Urban Decay's Naked line and other higher end palettes. Most of them, from L'Oreal, Revlon, Maybelline, etc., have received pretty lackluster reviews, doing nothing to improve the reputation of drugstore eyeshadows, so I hadn't been at all interested in getting them. But then last month swatches of CoverGirl's new TruNaked palettes appeared on a few blogs, and they looked much more promising. They each have 8 pans and there are three varieties: Goldens, Nudes, and Roses, corresponding to Naked 1, 2, and 3, it seems. The comparison with Urban Decay is made pretty explicit by the marketing for these CG palettes, including the sticked on the front that reads: "shades like a leading $50 eye shadow palette." UD Naked palettes are usually $54, but close enough. It turns out that these eyeshadows really are quite comparable to the UD eyeshadows I've used--for better or for worse.

I was most tempted by the Roses palette, in part because I have been curious about Naked 3 since it came out, but not enough to spend that much money on it. Pinks and reds, and even reddish-purples, in eyeshadows tend to look dreadful on me, despite all the usual tricks like separating them from my eyes with thick black liner and so forth. $12 feels like a much more reasonable gamble than $54. The Goldens palette was also stunning under the drugstore lights, but I'm pretty sure I have dupes for all of its shades. Roses was the most appealing. Look:

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette Review

Here it is in direct sunlight to show off the sparkle:

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette Review

The back of the palette has names for all of the shades, which are, left to right: Almond, Champagne, Baby, Rose Gold, Copper Rose, Dusk, Mauvergine, and Mousse. The matte shades are Almond, Baby, and Copper Rose, though they are more of a satin matte than completely flat. In the pan, Champagne, Rose Gold, and Mousse have the most sparkle--in use, however, all four of the darkest shades look mostly matte. You can see what I mean in my swatches on bare skin (no primer):

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette swatches

I think that most of the swatches I've seen elsewhere must have been done with a finger rather than with a brush, like I used here. With a finger they would be smoother and more opaque, but they are still nicely pigmented no matter what. There is none of the patchiness that appears in these swatches when I use them on my eyelids. (Almond is invisible only because it's the same color as my skin.)

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette swatches

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette swatches

You can see that the darker shades in particular are a bit crumbly and messy. That's what I meant about these being similar to UD for better for for worse. I've had a number of UD shadows, both a number of singles and the Dangerous Palette (reviewed here), and my main complaint is that they are excessively pigmented and messy. They have a lot of fallout. More pigmentation is usually considered a good thing in eyeshadow, but it does mean you have to be careful, especially if you have limited eyelid space for blending like I do. You have to use an extremely light touch and blow excess off your brush, etc. I actually didn't have nearly as much of a problem with fallout with these CG shadows as I've had with UD, but they are very soft and crumbly in the pan. For that reason, and because this type of clear plastic packaging is prone to cracking in my experience, this palette probably wouldn't be the best choice for travel.

I originally planned to include photos of all the looks I've created using this CG palette--and I've done a lot, because it's really fun to play with--but it soon became obvious that this long stretch of overcast days combined with my shitty camera doesn't make for attractive or useful photos of that sort. But I will show you an outtake to illustrate what I described above.



This photo was taken the first time I experimented with the palette, before I'd really got the hang of it. It shows the downside of impressive pigmentation, I think. See that stupid-looking line of dark brown shadow across my crease? My usual technique is to use a slightly pointed brush to draw a sort of line along the crease and then to use a bigger, rounded brush to blend. That doesn't work very well with this stuff, especially if you use primer. This photo shows the result after a ton of fucking blending. It was not going anywhere. I recommend using a very small amount, adding more only if you need it, and using a fluffy, not dense, brush to apply it. The Real Techniques Base Shadow brush (part of the Starter Kit), which has a sort of duo fiber thing going on, works well. If you don't need to use primer to prevent creasing and fading like I do, then you might just as well go without. These shadows don't need any assistance in the pigmentation department.

Here are the swatches in direct sunlight, again to show that when you actually apply these shadows, it's really only Champagne and Rose Gold that are particularly shimmery.

CoverGirl TruNaked Roses Eyeshadow Palette swatches

Most of these shadows, even those that look very pink in the pan or in swatches, come off as more mauve or brownish with a purple tinge on me, which makes them very wearable. I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I love the colors. You can use them to create some stunning, not-too-sickly, gothic romance heroine looks.

I had a $5 CVS coupon that I used on this palette, so I got it for $8 and some change, which I think is very reasonable. The only place I've seen it online so far is at ULTA, where it's priced at $12, which is cheaper than CVS at full price. They also have a BOGO 50% off sale of all CoverGirl right now, so if you need something else (a second palette??), you can get an even better deal.

Because sometimes I can be fooled by an overall lower price, I was curious how this palette compared per ounce to the value of Urban Decay Naked 3. Naked 3 is $54 for 0.6 oz. of product, which makes it $90 per ounce. CoverGirl Roses is 0.23 oz. for (about) $12, which makes it $52 per oz. Significantly cheaper! Phew. (With UD you're paying more for sturdier packaging, blah blah.)

All in all, this is an unusually impressive eyeshadow palette from the drugstore and well worth the price. It is on par with Urban Decay and as good as just about any other more expensive eyeshadow I've tried. Highly recommended--just use a soft touch!
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